Food and Nutrition


The types, affordability and availability of food and drink in the Wakefield district greatly influences what and how much food and drink people consume and is a major influence on our district’s health and wellbeing.

Their is evidence to show a poor diet can contribute to a range of health conditions including tooth decay, some cancers, heart disease, diabetes and obesity.

Food Consumption

Eating a healthy balanced diet that is low in saturated fat, sugar and salt and high in fruit, vegetables and fibre is an important part of maintaining good health.

A small amount of fat is an essential part of a healthy, balanced diet. However too much fat in a person’s diet, especially saturated fat, can cause a number of health problems including high blood pressure, heart disease and stroke. A significant proportion of the population currently consume too much fat and as a result UK government guidelines advise cutting down on all fats and replacing saturated fat with some unsaturated fat.

A diet containing too much sugar increases the risk of obesity and tooth decay.

All groups of the population, particularly children, are consuming far too much sugar.

The main sources of sugar in children’s diets come from sugary drinks, breakfast cereals, sweets, biscuits and cakes.

Eating too much salt can raise blood pressure which increases the risk of heart disease and stroke. Salt consumption in England has fallen by around 11% since 2005/6 but remains above the recommended levels.

The main sources of salt in our diets comes from bread, breakfast cereals, processed meats and other processed foods such as soups and ready meals.

Fruit and Vegetables
Evidence shows there are significant health benefits to eating at least five 80 gram portions of a variety of different fruits and vegetables every day. A diet high in fruit and vegetables has been shown to:

  • Be a good source of vitamins and minerals.
  • Be an excellent source of dietary fibre.
  • Help to reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke and some cancers.

(Source: NHS Choices)

Food Availability

The availability and affordability of healthy food options can play a significant role in shaping peoples diet and therefore health. There is little data available relating to the availability of healthy food options throughout the Wakefield district. However online the Food and Environment Assessment Tool (FEAT) provides information on general food availability across the district including the number and density of food outlets, such as cafes, restaurants, supermarkets, convenience stores and takeaways.

FEAT Tool data suggests food availability within the Wakefield district is highest in the areas containing the districts main retail/town centres, such as the Castleford & Glasshoughton, Wakefield North, and Pontefract North Wards. These three wards each host regular markets and hold significantly higher densities of food outlets than the district as a whole. The three areas with the lowest density of food outlets within the district are the Pontefract South, Airedale & Ferry Fryston and Altofts & Whitwood wards.

Smaller and fewer food outlets with less choice and higher prices can restrict  healthy foods choice for lower income families, increasing unhealthy choices and negatively affecting their health.

Out-of-home food
“Out-of-home” meals, such as those purchased from cafes, restaurants and takeaways, are often cheap and available at all times of day. However they also tend to have larger portion sizes and a higher salt, sugar and fat content than meals eaten and prepared at home. In England 1 in 4 adults and a 1 in 5 children reported they ate out once or more a week. (Source: UK National Diet and Nutrition Survey)

The consumption of “Out-of-home” meals in England is increasing and this has been identified as an important factor contributing to rising levels of obesity. (Source: Government Office for Science. Tackling obesities: future choices – project report (2nd edition))

There are around 1.4 fast food outlets in the Wakefield district for every 1,000 people. This is significantly higher than the England average. (FEAT) The number of fast food takeaways in the Wakefield district has seen an increase over recent years (from 421 in June 2014 to 452 in March 2017). In England evidence suggests that areas of higher deprivation tend to have a higher density of fast food takeaways. (PHE) This is a trend that can be seen in the Wakefield district, with the most deprived localities more likely to have a higher density of takeaways than more affluent areas. However there some notable exceptions to this, in particular the Airedale & Ferry Fryston Ward which in addition to some of the highest levels of deprivation in the district also has the lowest density of takeaways. The highest densities of takeaway food outlets are found within the retail/town centres, including Wakefield, Castleford/Glasshoughton and Pontefract.

In England 1 in 5 people ate takeaway meals at home once per week or more. (Source: UK National Diet and Nutrition Survey)

Food Affordability
There is little available evidence on the affordability of food in the Wakefield district. However national data indicates the proportion of household income the average household spends on food has increased over recent years, with less affluent households spending a significantly higher proportion of the household income on food than more affluent households. The average households income spent on food increased from 10.5% in 2007 to 11.1% in 2014. While the proportion of the income of the 20% poorest households spent on food rose from 15.2% to 15.7% over the same period. (Source: Defra Family Food 2014)

Within the district there are 24 active food banks or food aid providers.


The Challenges

A diet high in sugar, salt and fat and low in fruit, vegetables and fibre has been linked to number of health conditions including diabetes, obesity, heart disease, tooth decay and some cancers.

Service Provision

The Wakefield district Retail and Town Centre Local Plan part of the Wakefield Local Development Framework, looks to influence people’s, especially children’s, food choices by limiting the development of hot food takeaways located within 400 metres of schools and outside identified retail/town centres. (Policy RTC 5)

The council’s other activities around food include:

Allotments and Community Gardens
Wakefield Council manages 59 allotment sites, containing more than 1800 plots, that are located around the district and which allow local residents to grow their own healthy produce. In addition there is also a community garden at Agbrigg (and one in development at Normanton.)

In addition these Wakefield Council managed allotments and community gardens the district also holds more than 1700 allotment plots managed by a range of other organisations including Parish and Town Councils and Wakefield district Housing

Change4life Schools
This initiative support schools to improve healthy food choices and the eating experience within the school environment.

A number of the councils Healthy Wakefield Charters aim to encourage and support individuals and organisations to promote healthy eating. These include:

  • Eatwell Charter
    Is a food charter, which sets out Wakefield Council’s vision for development of a healthy and vibrant food sector for the Wakefield district. It details how its citizens, communities and businesses can all contribute towards making a healthy district with great food for all
  • Workplace Health and Wellbeing Project (including  the Workplace Wellbeing Charter and  5yrs Younger Scheme)
    Provides toolkits on portion size and snacking to employers throughout the district.

Weight Management Service
The new Weight Management Service offers a range of interventions that concentrate on behaviour change that will improve the diet and nutrition and physical activity to service users in order for them to achieve and maintain a healthier weight.

Further Information

Defra Family Food 2014

Food Environment Assessment Tool (FEAT)

Tackling obesities: future choices – project report (2nd edition)

UK National Diet and Nutrition Survey

Wakefield district Retail and Town Centre Local Plan

Wakefield council website – diet and nutrition advice